Tuesday, February 24, 2009

'Those I hoped would rescue me were allied with my abusers'

It's impossible to even imagine what Binyam Mohamed has been through. I simply lack the imagination to put myself in the position of someone who has been abducted, flown to another country, tortured, and who discovers that the country that he was hoping would rescue him is actually colluding with his abductors.

It feels to me like an insult to even pretend that I could imagine what seven years of that would feel like.

He arrived back on British soil yesterday and released a statement through his solicitor.

"For myself, the very worst moment came when I realised in Morocco that the people who were torturing me were receiving questions and materials from British intelligence."
That was surely the moment when he realised that no rescuers were coming. That the government which he hoped to take action to help him was actually working hand in hand with his abductors.

Senior MP's are said to be about to pursue what the government knew about his ill treatment and ask why they helped the CIA in his interrogation. But the truth is that we already know the answer. It was shortly after 9-11, the US was in a rage, and Blair was anxious to prove to Bush that a Labour leader could be as close to a Republican president as he had been to a Democratic one. I honestly believe it was no more complicated than that. It was politics, pure and simple. Binyam Mohamed was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the Labour government were keen to prove to the neo-cons that they were willing to bend the envelope and to work on what Cheney called "the dark side" in order to defeat al Qaeda.

"We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will. We've got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we're going to be successful. That's the world these folks operate in, and so it's going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective."
Cheney utterly embraced a "gloves off" approach to combating terrorism, he really did believe that the normal rules no longer applied. A British government hoping to prove it's credentials to a group of people who were essentially saying that international law could go hang itself, should have been impossible, but Blair pulled it off. Now, we know how he did that.

In the prepared statement issued as he landed in the UK, Mohamed said: "I have to say, more in sadness than in anger, that many have been complicit in my own horrors over the past seven years ... I realised in Morocco that the people who were torturing me were receiving questions and materials from British intelligence. I had met with British intelligence in Pakistan. I had been open with them. Yet the very people who I had hoped would come to my rescue, I later realised, had allied themselves with my abusers."

The high court has heard evidence of British security and intelligence officials' involvement in secret interrogations endured by Mohamed. What two judges have described as "powerful evidence" relating to Mohamed's treatment is being suppressed under pressure from Miliband and the US authorities.

The shadow foreign secretary, William Hague, said it was "high time the government asked the new US administration for permission" to release information relating to Mohamed's case. Edward Davey, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said the government was now "out of excuses for delaying a full inquiry" which Amnesty International also pressed for.

And, in a final act of utter shamelessness, Miliband has made a statement:

Miliband described Mohamed's release as the result of years of "very hard work by officials with him and with his team".

Miliband has fallen over himself to make sure that we never discover the truth about British involvement in the torture of this man over a seven year period. He has outraged British judges with his claim that national security will be endangered if they ever allow the truth of what happened to Binyam Mohamed to be made public. And yet, in his statement, he congratulates himself for "years of very hard work".

I hope MP's pursue what happened here with vigour. Miliband is now simply taking the piss. He should be on his hands and knees apologising for what has occurred here, not patting himself on the back and letting us know that, without his hard work, Mohamed would still be at Guantanamo.

It is, as William Hague has stated, "high time" that we are allowed to see the "powerful evidence" which British judges say Miliband and others are trying to suppress.


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